Efforts are underway to rescue 33 workers who are trapped underground in western region of Chongqing.

Thousands die in accidents every year in China's coal mines.
Thousands die in accidents every year in China's coal mines.

Thirty-three miners have been trapped inside a coal mine in a western region of China following a gas explosion in the shaft, Chinese state media said on Monday.

The state-backed Xinhua news agency reported that the blast occurred in China's sprawling western region of Chongqing shortly before noon on Monday.

The state-run CCTV network reported that there were 35 miners present underground at the time of the explosion, two of whom managed to escape.

An investigation into the incident had been launched and efforts to rescue the trapped miners were underway, it said.

At least 931 people were killed in mine accidents in China during 2015, drastically down from 2002, when nearly 7,000 miners were killed.

China, the country with the world's largest coal mining industry, launched a series of plans to improve safety in its mines, including the closing of more than 1,000 outdated ones.

The shutting of smaller, more dangerous mines has helped to reduce casualties in recent years.

The head of China's State Administration of Work Safety announced this year that the coal mines which are out of repair will be overhauled.​

Although the toll from accidents has fallen, China's coal mines are the deadliest in the world because of poor safety and the rush to feed energy demand from the world's second-largest economy.

In September of this year, 18 people were killed in a fatal explosion at a small coal mine located in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies